FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael Nelson,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-050
Brian J. Miller, Director of Development
Services, Department of Development
Services, Town of Berlin; and Department
of Development Services, Town of Berlin,
Respondents June 10, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 31, 1998, at 
which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and 
presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
	After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and 
conclusions of law are reached:
	1.  The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S. 
(prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(a), G.S.).
	2.   By letter dated January 19, 1998, the complainant requested that the 
respondents provide him with copies of:
all records of the Town of Berlin of the denial of any application for site 
plan approval based upon the lack of a key map on the site plan blueprint 
as submitted by the applicant to the Berlin Planning & Zoning 
Commission between January 1, 1994 and January 1, 1998; and 
all records of the Town of Berlin of the submission of site plan 
applications which contain no key map in the original site plan as filed and 
submitted to the Berlin Planning Commission or the Berlin Planning and 
Zoning Commission between January 1, 1994 and January 1, 1998.    

	3.   By letter dated January 26, 1998, the respondents denied the complainant’s 
request as described in paragraph 2, above, on the grounds that such request did not 
identify specific documents; in the alternative, the respondents offered to make all files 
for site plan applications available for the complainant’s review and to provide the 
complainant with any copies he requested upon payment of a fee.  
	4.   By letter dated February 12, 1998 and filed on February 19, 1998, the 
complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the 
Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his request as described in paragraph 2, 
above.  The complaint asked that sanctions be imposed upon the respondent director.  
	5.   It is found that the records of the respondents are public records within the 
meaning of 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.
	6.   Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part states:
[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state 
statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public 
agency…shall be public records and every person shall 
have the right to inspect such records promptly during 
regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such 
records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15…  
(Emphasis added). 
	7.   Section 1-15(a), G.S., in relevant part provides:  
[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly 
upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.  
The fee for any copy provided in accordance with the 
freedom of information act…(2) by [municipal] public 
agencies, as defined in section 1-18a, shall not exceed fifty 
cents per page….
	8.   It is found that the complainant has been given many opportunities to review 
the site plan application files and has not been denied access to such files by the 
respondents.  It is further found that the complainant has not been denied access to the 
minutes of Berlin Planning and Zoning Commission minutes.  
	9.   It is found that the site plan applications maintained by the respondents date 
back many years and that such applications are filed by neighborhood, rather than by type 
or date.  It is further found that such applications may be denied for a variety of reasons 
and that in order to determine the reason a particular complaint was denied, the 
respondents would have to open and review every site plan application in their custody.   
	10.   It is concluded that the complainant’s request, as described in paragraph 2, 
above, calls for research on the part of the respondents.  The FOI Act does not require 
public agencies to perform research for requesters.   Ethan Book, Jr. v. Freedom of 
Information Commission, No. CV97-0567176 and Ethan Book, Jr. v. Freedom of 
Information Commission, No. CV97-0566436, Sup. Ct., Judicial District of 
Hartford/New Britain (McWeeny, J.) (Jan. 28, 1998).  Consequently, it is concluded that 
the respondents did not violate 1-19(a), G.S., by denying the complainant’s request for 
copies of records as described in paragraph 2, above.  
	11.  At the hearing, the respondent director testified that Notices of Decision of 
the Berlin Planning and Zoning Commission are kept in a separate file, although copies 
of some such Notices may also be contained in the individual site plan application files.  
After the hearing, the complainant filed a brief wherein he contended that prior 
knowledge of such a file of Notices of Decision would have assisted him in his attempt to 
assemble information and would likely have avoided the necessity of filing his complaint 
with the Commission.      
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.   The complaint is hereby dismissed. 
	2.   Although the Commission concluded that the respondents did not violate the 
FOI Act in this matter, it notes the complainant’s contention described in paragraph 11 of 
the findings above.  The Commission observes that providing assistance to the public 
with respect to inspection of public records can in many instances avoid the need for 
hearings at this Commission, and the respondents are urged to provide such assistance in 
the future.  
	
	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of June 10, 1998.


_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S., THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF 
EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO 
THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR 
AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
Michael Nelson
1801 Wilbur Cross Highway
Berlin, CT 06037
Brian J. Miller, Director of Development Services, Department of Development Services, 
Town of Berlin; and Department of Development Services, Town of Berlin
c/o Atty. E. Timothy Sullivan, Jr.
Gaffrey, Kane, Reynolds, Sullivan & Vollmer
1 Liberty Square
New Britain, CT 06051
__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-050/FD/tcg/06121998